Reduced Mileage Awards Guide [2021]

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. 

It’s always nice when you can put miles back into your wallet and reduced mileage awards are a great way to do that. They are relatively easy to take advantage of but in order to do so you will need to be aware of the limitations and different discount levels available.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about reduced mileage awards.

What are reduced mileage awards?

Reduced mileage awards are special discounts on American Airlines MileSAAver awards to select destinations that are available to some American Airlines co-branded credit card holders.

These discounts allow you to save thousands of miles on redemptions, which can knock down the price of a flight from 12,500 miles to 8,750 miles.

The list of select destinations changes every month and every two months the list is completely updated.

Tip: Use WalletFlo to help you optimize your credit cards. It’s free and will help you get approved for some of the best travel cards!

Are reduced mileage awards worth it?

Some might wonder if reduced mileage awards are really worth it.

Obviously, if you can save miles on the trip you already planned on taking the savings are going to be worth it as long as the booking process is not an extreme pain in the rear end (it’s usually not — although problems do sometimes arise).

So from that perspective, I think the awards are almost always worth it when you can utilize them.

The biggest thing to be on the lookout for are “Web Specials.” These are awards that can be extremely cheap, sometimes cheaper than the MileSAAver awards with the reduced mileage award discount.

You should always be on the lookout for those awards because you could save even more miles by booking them.

But in terms of the value proposition of your American Airlines credit card, that’s a little bit of a different story.

You can answer that question by first getting a sense of the value that you can get from this benefit.

If you were to utilize the reduced mileage awards for a trip over 500 miles you could save up to 7,500 miles.

At a valuation of 1.37, that comes out to about $102 in value. So if you are utilizing this benefit from a credit card with an annual fee under $100, then that’s an easy way to completely offset the annual fee.

The problem just arises when you realize that the eligible destinations are somewhat limited and it’s not always easy to find availability. So in some instances this credit card perk can be pretty difficult to use which makes its value proposition a little suspect for some.

Eligible credit cards for reduced mileage awards

There are quite a few different cards that will qualify for reduced mileage awards and there are two distinct discount tiers.

The top-tier which offers the biggest discount will be available to you if you have one of the following cards:

In the top tier, you can get a 7,500 mile discount on roundtrip flights at 500 miles or more (the discount is 3,750 miles for one-way trips). For flights under 500 miles, the discount is 2,000 miles for a roundtrip or 1,000 miles for a one-way trip.

This means that you can save up to 30% of round-trip flights within the US.

The second tier which offers the smaller discount will be available to you if you have one of the following cards:

  • Citi AAdvantage Gold World Elite MasterCard
  • AAdvantage Aviator Blue MasterCard

In the bottom tier, you can get a 5,000 mile discount on roundtrip flights at 500 miles or more (the discount is 2,500 miles for one-way trips). For flights under 500 miles, the discount is 1,000 miles for a roundtrip or 500 miles for a one-way trip.

Booking rules

Be sure that you check the terms and conditions to find the latest booking rules.

Typically, there will be a deadline for when you must book your award redemption by and then there will be a separate deadline for when you must actually travel by.

There is also a geographical restriction that requires your travel to originate in the lower 48 (contiguous United States).

Worth noting, you should be able to apply the discount on flights to and from the list of airports.

How to use reduced mileage awards

Figure out your discount type

The first step that you need to take when utilizing this perk is figuring out what type of discount you are eligible for.

You can do this by viewing the list above and seeing whether your credit card qualifies you for the top-tier or lower-tier discount.

Find the discount code

The next step is to pick your class of service and find the corresponding award code. You can find the award codes here.

Below, I have included a breakdown of these codes from early 2021 but keep in mind that the discount codes do change as the schedule gets updated.

Flights within the U.S. (500+ miles)

Make sure that you pay close attention to the cabin type that you are booking.

7,500 mile discount award codes

  • First Class (2-cabin aircraft) – UD21X2E / AVM13
  • Business Class (3-cabin aircraft) – UD28X7E / AVA07
  • Main Cabin – TD8X7E / AVM12

5,000 mile discount award codes

  • First Class (2-cabin aircraft) – UD22X5E / AVM11
  • Business Class (3-cabin aircraft) – UD30E / AVA01
  • Main Cabin – TD10E / AVM10

Flights within the U.S. (under 500 miles)

2,000 mile discount award codes

  • First Class (2-cabin aircraft) – UD14E / AVA12
  • Main Cabin – TD6X5E / AVA11

1,000 mile discount award codes

  • First Class (2-cabin aircraft) – UD14X5E / AVA06
  • Main Cabin – TD7E / AVA05

Find your destination

The next step is to choose your destination. The big thing to know here is that availability changes on a monthly basis.

This means that you want to check on the schedule on a regular basis to see if your destination is listed. The schedule is broken down by month and so you can easily review it to see if your desired destination is currently eligible.

And yet another big thing to know about these reduced mileage awards: you won’t always find the most popular cities listed on the schedule. A lot of times, the destinations are much smaller cities.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some very popular destinations. For example, in early 2021 some of the popular cities found on the schedule included:

  • Denver, Colorado (DEN)
  • Detroit, Michigan (DTW)
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL)
  • Houston, Texas (IAH & HOU)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS)
  • Orlando, Florida (MCO)

The thing about these popular cities is that often they may only appear on the schedule for one or two months out of the four available versus the smaller cities that might appear every available month.

MileSAAver awards

After you know your discount type and your desired destination, you then want to check for award availability.

When trying to book these awards, you are looking for “MileSAAver” awards. Now that we are seeing some form of dynamic pricing it’s not as easy to find these MileSAAver awards any longer.

One easy way to find these, is to click on the details when viewing flight options and look for the booking code. The eligible MileSAAver awards will have a “T” class for economy and “U” class for business.

Example of an eligible award.

If you are looking at a web special, the code will display something different such as “Y” for economy. Remember, those are NOT eligible for the reduced mileage award discount.

And example of an award not eligible.

Book

Once you have your destination and code, and you are ready to book, all you need to do is call reservations at 1-800-882-8880.

Since this is an award ticket, be ready to pay the award ticket taxes and fees which begin at $5.60 per one-way trip.

Since these awards cannot be booked online, the $30 phone booking fee should be waived (but just make sure that the agent is aware of this rule).

In addition, the $75 close-in booking fee should no longer apply to these awards.

Reduced mileage awards FAQ

What cards qualify for reduced mileage awards?

The following cards qualify for the full discount:

Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard
CitiBusiness AAdvantage Select MasterCard
CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard
AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard
AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard
AAdvantage Aviator Business MasterCard

The following cards qualify for the partial discount:

Citi AAdvantage Gold World Elite MasterCard
AAdvantage Aviator Blue MasterCard

Can you book reduced mileage awards for someone else?

Yes, you are allowed to book tickets for other individuals as long as the miles come out of your account.

Can you use reduced mileage awards for domestic first class flights?

Yes, you can use the discount for domestic first class flights.

Can you use reduced mileage awards for one-way flights?

Yes, you can use the discount to book one-way flights.

Can you get reduced mileage awards with the MileUp card?

Unfortunately, no you cannot get the reduced mileage awards with the MileUp card.

When does American Airlines release new reduced mileage awards?

Every two months American Airlines will release the new list of eligible destinations. This list will cover four months which means that you can book these awards up to four months in advance.

Can you book reduced mileage awards online?

No, you cannot book these awards online.

Can you book reduced mileage awards for international awards?

No, unfortunately this does not appear to be a possibility.

Can you get multiple discounts with multiple cards?

No, you can only take advantage of the discount a single time with each booking.

Can you use the reduced mileage award discount on partners?

Unfortunately, no you cannot use the discount on partners.

Final word

Reduced mileage awards are fantastic ways to save thousands of miles on award redemptions. The trick is to find a destination you plan on visiting on the calendar at the right time. It’s not always easy to do that but it definitely is worth it when you can.

UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *